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02.01.08

Novell’s Role in a Microsoft Strategy to Sideline GNU/Linux (Updated)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 11:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In the “Town Of Mirrors”, there is nobody more omnipresent than self. And that, you see, is the situation up there in Redmond, Washington, which is virtually a town of mirrors.

Submitted to LinuxToday by Jeff 'Microsoft' Gould (on the face of it), the following image shows how badly Microsoft treats competition. Microsoft puts itself at the centre of the world and tries to push GNU/Linux out of it. Here is how Mary Jo Foley puts it:

Microsoft is looking at open-source software (OSS) as just another flavor of independent software vendors (ISV) software. Microsoft’s goal is to convince OSS vendors to port their software to Windows. But Microsoft doesn’t want OSS software to just sit on top of Windows; the company wants this software to be tied into the Windows ecosystem by integrating with Active Directory, Microsoft Office, Expression designer tools, System Center systems-management wares and SQL Server database.

In cases where customers and software vendors want/need Linux to still be part of the picture for some reason, Microsoft will suggest they use Hyper-V, its forthcoming virtualization hypervisor, to run Linux and Linux-dependent applications.

Several points come to mind. Among them:

  1. With Hyper-V and the Novell deal, Microsoft hopes to make Linux a ‘slave’ (VM guest, not host). We covered this many times before and offered quotes confirming it, including ones from Ron Hovsepian.
  2. The aspiration to bring all open source software to Windows was mentioned explicitly by Steve Ballmer back in October. Recall the recent Apache story.

In the past 24 hours alone we showed at least two new examples where Microsoft uses Novell. These include:

“It’s easier to crush a single company than an entity which is widely distributed.”It is truly appalling to find that some companies still adopt SLES and SLED, even in places software patents are not legal. Companies that adopt Novell’s SUSE are rather foolish. They get absolutely nothing in return and they receive nothing extra apart from ‘tax’ for mythical patents and unsubstantiated patent claims. “Interoperability” is just a decoy. There is nothing missing in other offerings. It’s like offering a buyer aura along with a plasma ball.

Disinformation and ignorance in this area is astounding. The Redmond/Waltham hypnosis machine has had some people believe they get something extra from Novell. Well, that is perhaps what one gets when Bill Gates and Microsoft literally own a lot of the media, so they send messages advocating SLED/S, for which Microsoft gets paid handsomely. They advocate it at the expense of other Linux offerings whose sales Microsoft is not paid for. Microsoft tries to suffocate everything but Novell et al. It’s easier to crush a single company than an entity which is widely distributed.

One day people will realise and grasp the truth. We already know all about SCO.

Update: You may also wish to see Matt Asay’s coverage of this and, in particular, his interpretation of the disturbing strategy chart.

Microsoft and open source: Welcome to the Borg?

[...]

As it turns out, it’s very similar to Microsoft’s general partner strategy: embrace and envelope. (Or embrace, extend, and extinguish, as used to be Microsoft’s marching orders.)

This makes Novell just another Microsoft ISV, doesn’t it?

Exchange 2007 Seen as Innately Anti-competitive

Posted in Microsoft, Protocol, Servers, Standard, Windows at 10:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following update has been submitted by a reader who previously shared his observation that Microsoft does not play nice with rival Web browsers. The gist of the previous post is that an upgrade of Microsoft Exchange servers breaks compatibility. This post attracted the attention of other bloggers who probably had encountered similar problems.


I found out definitively that we are not currently running Exchange 2007. They attempted to migrate my officemate to an Exchange 2007 server, but she had a problem in that they could not migrate her old e-mail. The problem seemed to be related to something called a GID (or GUID?) and, apparently, it was so complicated that our administrators punted it over to Microsoft support for resolution. Right now, her options are that she can use the new server without any of her old mail or revert to the old server.

“In general, our Windows administrators do not trouble themselves to test their systems with non-Microsoft software.”As for my problem, I am unfortunately not very surprised that I still have it. In general, our Windows administrators do not trouble themselves to test their systems with non-Microsoft software. They barely even test interoperability with the Macintosh, which we allegedly support. We also allegedly support Firefox, but it is up to rank-and-file users like myself to report interoperability problems with non-Microsoft software such as this. I can only hope that the powers-that-be see fit to investigate these problems and are able to fix them.

When I was growing up, my father worked in information technology. At the time, he was working in an environment which featured IBM mainframes. IBM was then a monopolist, Microsoft was then “the new kid on the block” and my father fancied Microsoft. After all, those people who worked with the IBM mainframes behind the glass walls were arrogant and unresponsive. Why not just cheaply acquire a PC with Windows, Word and Excel and work around the mainframe people? Now it appears to me that we have come full circle and Microsoft has replaced IBM with their bloated and overly complicated systems, complemented by their arrogant and unresponsive minders.


As was stressed yesterday, the Yahoo bid is worrisome because Yahoo has been Linux-hostile when it comes to platform compatibility (or censorship). The same goes for cross-Web browser compatibility.

The scenario above is also worth considering when asking ourselves whether or not Microsoft will play fair as Silverlight, OOXML, SharePoint and so forth actually evolve. Microsoft calls this innovation, not deviation from widely-accepted protocols.

“We’re disheartened because Microsoft helped W3C develop the very standards that they’ve failed to implement in their browser. We’re also dismayed to see Microsoft continue adding proprietary extensions to these standards when support for the essentials remains unfinished.”

George Olsen, Web Standards Project

Links 02/02/2008: Competition Scrutiny, Linux at Russian Schools, EU and FLOSS

Posted in News Roundup at 10:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The Complete End of Novell…”

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Vista, Windows at 7:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell holds your hand during Vista migration

We’ve received a pointer to this page claiming only that “It’s the complete end of Novell.”

Shouldn’t Microsoft set up some Web pages to assist migrations to GNU/Linux? You know, ‘in return’? As Matt Asay stated exactly a month ago, “Novell is a mere vassal to Microsoft”. We saw this before.

Microsoft Novell

Assault on GNU/Linux or Web-based Groupware

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mail, Microsoft, Open XML, Protocol at 11:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The key to adoption of GNU/Linux in the enterprise involves virtualisation in the back end and also groupware solutions. There are numerous other important considerations, but we do not consider them here.

“These are great threats to Microsoft’s own technology because they facilitates cross-platform interaction and deployments of GNU/Linux on the desktop.”We have tirelessly covered the situation VMWare is in and moments ago we also discussed Zimbra and Hula. These are great threats to Microsoft’s own technology because they facilitates cross-platform interaction and deployments of GNU/Linux on the desktop. Apart from Exchange servers and Outlook, another mention-worthy component would be SharePoint; both of which are enormous lock-in-based threats. There are several others such as OOXML and Silverlight, but again, we needn’t really consider them in this context because they increase argument complexity.

The following new interview with Aaron Seigo of KDE sheds light on this issue.

I started out doing mostly server-side stuff and as I got involved more and more I started to realize if client side software is not taken care of well we will lose the server. Everything is leveraged from what the end-user uses so it’s a real challenge.

[...]

Now Microsoft with SharePoint is taking that to the next level with Office. We need to have client side software that works well with it. I’m not sure that is appreciated by the Linux distributors, and if they did, they wouldn’t waste time with things that don’t work. I love Compiz Fusion and I think we need bling on the desktop, but let’s be honest, that doesn’t attract developers or get free software out to the world. People are stuck with things like file formats, proprietary protocols and hardware. We do need to address the online Web 2.0 world, but again, that keeps the client side relevant but it doesn’t get more free software clients out there.

The message to be taken from this is that Microsoft hopes to leverage desktop-bound lock-in (Windows-tied proprietary protocols) to knock Linux off the server room. Things that allow this to happen include OOXML (with SharePoint tags). The European Commission is hopefully watching this [3, 4]. In particular, the regulators must be aware of the effect of Microsoft eliminating shareware rivals, essentially paying someone off to dismantle risk. This is far from new; au contraire — it’s a pattern.

Glyn Moody on Software Patents; EFF Up Against Patent Trolls

Posted in EFF, Patents at 11:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Glyn Moody has found another excellent way to phrase the software patent conundrum (among others):

One of the many arguments against patenting software is that it’s as stupid as copyrighting language: if you did that, nobody could talk without getting sued. Similarly, thanks to the essential nature of software algorithms, nobody can program without infringing on something.

This relates nicely to what was said about software patents the other day when Amazon patented the customised 404 error pages (our own Web site apparently infringes on this patent, by default).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is meanwhile tackling another ridiculous patent which we mentioned at the beginning of last month. Here is the announcement from the EFF:

Sheldon F. Goldberg was awarded the illegitimate patent for the “method and system of playing games on a network,” and claims to own rights in all online gaming systems that use tournament-style play, advertising, and have real-time updates of ladder-rankings in multi-player games. Goldberg has used this bogus patent to coerce licensing fees from numerous small businesses, demanding payments that are excessive yet less than potential litigation.

This is truly a disgraceful patent which is trivial enough to be an insult to society’s intelligence. In our previous item that complained about vanity and aggression of patent trolls we encouraged that this culture should be fought against. PatentTroll, for example, should have no mercy on Niro, who has resorted to intimidation tactics. He can’t do anything to TrollTracker. The more he tries, the deeper in the mud he sinks. He’ll soon realise this.

These attacks on PatentTroll are proof that he (or she) is on the right topic. That’s what people say anyway. Intimidation is not real risk; just perceived one. It’s about gagging.

GNU and Linux

Another New Addition to the AGPLv3 (Wikidot)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU meditatesNot much has happened since our last update on GPLv3, but among the additions which continue to come at a steady pace we now have Wikidot

A great wiki engine behind Wikidot.com is now free software as Wikidot Inc owners: Pieter Hintjens and Piotr Frąckowiak released the code on AGPLv3 license just today. This is great news for the Internet as Wikidot is one of the most advanced wiki engines out there, leaving MediaWiki and TWiki far behind.

Here is the press release. Welcome to the *GPLv3 family, Wikidot. For those who do not know, a lot of FFII’s Web presence is based on this software.

Would Microsoft ‘Pull a Hula’ on Zimbra?

Posted in Deals, Mail, Microsoft, Novell, Virtualisation, Xen at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Several days ago, the following article appeared in Bruce Perens’ Technocrat Web site. It announced the incarnation of Novell’s Hula, called Bongo.

In 2005, we thought that we had a solution when Novell released Hula, an open source version of Netmail. Unfortunatly, things didn’t went too far but it ultimately led to a fork called Bongo.

“What happened to Hula,” you ask? As we said at the time, it was competing against Microsoft’s Exchange, so it’s likely that it was dropped by Novell for Microsoft’s convenience (competitive reasons) [1, 2].

Now, with a bid for Yahoo looming, people have begun asking themselves many questions. There are endless hypothetical scenarios to consider, of which here is one:

Yahoo acquired the open source software vendor for $350m in September last year to expand its hosted mail and collaboration capabilities. It probably goes without saying that Microsoft isn’t going to want to maintain an open source alternative to Exchange, so would Microsoft set it free or take the opportunity to crush it like a bug?

The same type of concern we have had about Xen, which we repeatedly argue got snatched by proxy [1, 2, 3, 4]. Microsoft-Citrix acquisition rumours and speculations are nothing so new. Commission? Regulators? Where art thou? Some of the most recent strategic acquisitions seem to amount to nothing but harming one's rivals rather than about personal gain.

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